Circle Peak

Kim called to invite me on a hike to Circle Peak. A very temporary opening of the closed road allowed us to avoid the 10+ miles of road walking or biking. It was Friday or not at all. I said no. I called back and said yes. Such a short trail to such amazing views. I could not turn down a one time opportunity, even on a work day. Kim and I hiked up Circle Peak back in 2007. That backpacking trip required miles of walking on the washed out Whitechuck Road. Even with that road now repaired it is an 18 mile trip via Crystal Creek. I put in 3 hours at work then we headed north. Gwen signed on too and we picked her up along the way. The road to the trailhead is very brushy and high clearance was very helpful. It took about an hour to drive the last dozen miles. At 1:30 pm we reached the road end. The new trail from Crystal lake is the way to reach Circle Peak. The old trail from the parking lot up though a clear cut is long gone. Kim biked up a few years back and found a trail down the road a ways that climbed to the new trail. I misunderstood and headed up the very brushy clear cut. Oops! Kim and Gwen followed me and we fought our way up to the trail.

A short way along the trail we came to a huge tree that fell right across the tread. No choice but to drop down around the end and climb back up. this has been a great year for mushrooms and it was no surprise to find them all along the way. There were big, small, and many colors of mushrooms. A number of very old bridges and boardwalks remain. they are mostly rotting away. Periodically we found new ones in their places. Only that one tree blocks the trail. For the most part it is in good condition. The trail is a little under 2.5 miles to the top. It gains just under 2000'. Not really steep but steadily gaining elevation.

We passed a boulder field then back into forest. Across a neat though collapsing bridge over Circle Creek. We took a short break at a meadow. Some berries though not very sweet.  more climbing brought us to another meadow. Back into forest on more time until we broke out into the upper meadow slopes. On our Labor Day Weekend visit 6 years earlier we had flowers all over the hillside. this time it was yellow false hellebore and loads of ripe berries. Lots of big berries. Too many to pass them by. We kept switchbacking up the slope all the way to the ridge top.  From there we could look down on part of Indigo Lake and see out to many more peaks.

Climbing up to the ridge we first had a view out to Mt. Pugh. They Whitechuck Mountain came into view. Higher up it was Sloan Peak, Meadow Mountain, and Black Mountain. When we reached the ridge Glacier Peak was now right in our faces. The trail continued at a level grade just below the right side of the ridge. We contoured until right below Circle Peak then switchbacked up to the false summit. On our first visit we did not see an easy way over to the old lookout site. This time I arrived first and started along the narrow ridge. Quite impressive drop offs on both sides. There is a short exposed section with good foot and hand holds. This time I scampered right across. A drop and climb quickly had me at the lookout site on the real summit.

The views from the false summit are outstanding They are even better from the real summit. To the west were Whitechuck, Whitehorse, Higgens,  and Round Mountain. To the north were Baker, Shuksan, Buckindy, Green, Downey, Lime Ridge, Dome, and many more. To the east Glacier Peak dominated the view. Far to the south I think I was able to pick out Sperry, Vesper, and Big Four. Such fantastic views. I arrived on top at 4:10 pm. Kim and Gwen arrived soon after. We signed the register that sits in an old mailbox. Though sunset is now just after 7:00 pm we had a nice long summit stay. We headed back to the false summit and headed down right at 5:00 pm. A longer summit stay and more time to eat berries would have been nice but we hoped to drive down the narrow overgrown road before darkness set in.

The trip down was much faster. We were back above the parking lot by 6:20 pm. Instead of fighting through the brush again we followed the trail beyond the parking lot. Right where the new trail down to the road turn s off a big tree fell right across the trail. It also fell across several switchbacks in the short trail down. Instead of bushwhacking we climbed over a huge tree on as steep slope. Well, it worked okay. We quickly changed and started down the road. We made it down to the closure point just before darkness. It was 8:00 pm by the time we reached Darrington. After dinner it was very late by the time I reached home.

This was a great trip. Circle Peak may well be worth the long 18 mile round trip from the Whitechuck side or the 10+ miles round trip on the closed road to reach the trailhead where we started. Wildflowers or berries in season on the wide open slopes below the peak. Fantastic views from the top. I'm just glad I changed my mind and took advantage of this one time short cut. A great day was had by all of us.

Ascending Clear Cut
Trail Is Above
Big Tree Across Trail
Red Mushroom
Very White Fungus
Very Old Bridge
Big Meadow
Photo Break
Pineapple Mushroom?
Mega Shrooms
Bear's Head Fungus
Out Of Forest
Gwen On Trail
Sloan Peak
Mt. Pugh
Yellow Hellebore
Whitechuck Mountain
Closer Whitechuck Mt.
Circle Peak Summit
Many Ridges
Black Mountain
Meadow Below
Circle Slopes
Glacier Peak In Sight
Nearing Summit
Circle Peak Summit
Mt. Shuksan
Green Mountain
Mt. Baker
Mt. Buckindy
Kim & Summit Register
Gwen Scrambles Ridge
Gwen & Glacier Peak
Scrambling Ridge
Another Glacier Peak
Heading Down
Big Mushroom
Dome Peak
Dome Close Up
Nice Colors
Descending Slopes
Fall Color
Summer Flowers
Seed Pods
9 Mile Marker
Crossing Creek
Brushy Road
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2013